Mobilize, Educate and Advocate

REDF works to influence national, state and local policy makers to support and promote the growth of social enterprise. We do this by mobilizing the social enterprise sector to educate and advocate for evidence based solutions to addressing chronic unemployment among people who have experienced homelessness, incarceration, mental illness and/or substance addictions, and young people who are disconnected from work and school.

REDF mobilizes the social enterprise sector while building bridges with local, state and national policy makers, administrators, business leaders and non-profits providers. Through testimonies, letters and profiles of social enterprise participant employees, REDF works with social enterprises to bring stories of success directly to policy makers. Through rigorous third party evaluations, REDF works with its funded social enterprise businesses to demonstrate their impact and benefit to individuals, families, and society at large.

In 2010, REDF’s launched SE4Jobs , a national network of leaders and advocates from social enterprise, business, non-profit support providers, employment and workforce training, education, and the public sector. This network can be mobilized on a national, state, regional or local level when the time is right to advocate for public policy.

Policy that Strengthens Social Enterprise

REDF’s policy work is driven by two key objectives:

1. Growing Social Enterprise Businesses: Leveraging capital and services for social enterprise businesses and bridge employers.

2. Promote Employee Economic Stability: Increasing access to financial stability and sustainability with tools and incentives for adults and transition age youth (18-24) re-entering or entering the world of work who have been homelessness, convicted of a crime, and/or struggling with mental health and/or addiction challenges.

REDF current policy efforts include:

Local:
REDF has advised the Los Angeles County Office of Consumer & Business Affairs, which was directed by the County Board of Supervisors to revise the County procurement policies and contract preferences for small business, and include provisions for social enterprise businesses. Link

REDF and Los Angeles-based social enterprises participated in the Los Angeles County Homeless Initiative, whereby REDF actively participated and advocated to increase employment for homeless adults by supporting social enterprises. This resulted in a $2 million allocation. REDF continues to support this strategy through its SE4Jobs L.A. and direct advisory services to the County. Link

State:
California: In 2016, REDF sponsored SB 1219 Employment Social Enterprise (Senator Loni Hancock –D-09) which grants an employment social enterprise the preference and status to secure state business and procurement contracts. Additionally, SB 1219 will establish a state-level certification for employment social enterprises that can be recognized by a local jurisdiction or special district for local procurement preferences. Status as of 7/5/2016 – Passed California State Senate; Passed Assembly Committee on Jobs, Economic Development & the Economy (JEDE); Pending Appropriations Committee hearing. SB 1219 received support from Alliance for Boys and Men of Color, California Local Conservations Corps, California Black Chamber of Commerce, Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, and a long list of employment focused social enterprises.

National:
Social Innovation Fund (SIF): Authorized by the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act in April of 2009, the Social Innovation Fund is a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service that empowers organizations to identify and support sustainable solutions that are already making a significant impact in transforming communities. With the simple but vital goal of finding what works, and making it work for more people, the Social Innovation Fund and its' grantees create a learning network of organizations working to implement innovative and effective evidence-based solutions to local and national challenges in three priority areas: economic opportunity, healthy futures, and youth development.

SIF works through experienced intermediaries with strong skills and track records of success in competitively selecting, validating and growing high-performing programs. It requires and supports robust evaluation, leading to better decision-making and results. Lastly SIF is highly leveraged, requiring its limited federal investment to be matched 2 to 1.

REDF was awarded its first 5- year SIF grant 2010 to demonstrate and evaluate its California-based model of sub-granting and advising employment focused social enterprises that provide jobs with supportive services for people facing significant barriers to employment. In 2015, REDF was awarded another 5-year grant specifically to scale the model nationally.

Each year Congress deliberates on the SIF appropriation. Federal funding have fluctuated year to year between $40 million and $70 million. For FY16 both the House and the Senate failed to include SIF in the committee appropriations. With the help of advocates and legislators across the county, Congress appropriated $50 million through conference negotiations. This year, FY17, we are facing a similar situation. The Senate failed to include SIF. We are awaiting the House Labor Health & Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee action.

REDF works with the network of SIF programs to ensure that Congressional representatives understand the value that SIF brings to scaling up innovative solutions to social programs.

National Networks and Coalitions: National advocacy cannot be done alone. REDF leverages SE4Jobs and works in partnership with other organizations. Here are a few links:
America Forward
Results for America
Corporation for Supportive Housing
Alliance for Boys and Men of Color
Heartland Alliance